Pál (Paul) Stoffa, Major (1876- ??)


Little is known of Stoffa’s early life, except for the material within the autobiographical account, Round the World to Freedom (1933), which focuses on the authors extraordinary experiences during the First World War. As an artillery officer in the Austro-Hungarian army Stoffa was captured by the Russians and sent to a POW camp in Siberia. Despite the almost impossible isolation of the camp Stoffa escaped making his way through China to the Pacific Ocean where managed to board a ship to the USA. When in America he managed to procure employment as a stoker on a Swedish ship destined for Europe. When the ship put into Stornaway he was captured, and lacking any military credentials was imprisoned in London before being sent to the civilian camp at Alexandra Palace before being transferred to Knockaloe. On arriving he was placed in Camp III and reported

Waking up on the 1st of January, 1917, I soon discovered why the camp at Knockaloe inspired such dread amongst the inhabitants of the Alexandra Palace. Here internment was reduced to its simple elements: barbed-wire, huts, mud… no permanent buildings and no visitors, it was the home of make-shift, grim, cold and monotonous. The incessant drizzle outside supplied the key-note of our existence. (Stoffa 1933: internet).

Yet, sometime later he transferred to Camp II to be with a friend he had met in the Far East. Whilst held at Knockaloe Stoffa, along with five other internees (Theodor Jungenabld, ?? Schmidt, August Stender, Karl Schlander and Victor Ehlerp), escaped Knockaloe on the 8th April 1918. A description in the Mona’s Herald described him as

Name: Paul Stoffa (No. 28053).

Age: 42 years.

Complexion: Fresh.

Hair: Turning grey. Sharp moustache.

Eyes: Maple

Height: 5 feet 4 inches.

Dress: Grey tweeds, no hat, possibly wearing knickerbockers. Very nervous. Speaks very little English. (Mona’s Herald, April 10 1918: 2).

They were all recaptured five days later in Port Erin as they tried to steal a fishing boat (Isle of Man Examiner 20 April 1918: 4). An account of the escape also featured in Round the World to Freedom (1933), which reported Stoffa’s experiences in the camp. Unfortunately little is known about Stoffa life following his internment, but it may be supposed that he returned to his homeland.


Stoffa, P. (1933). Round the World to Freedom: Being the Escapes and Adventures of Major Paul Stoffa (of the Hungarian Army). The Bodley Heat Ltd.: London.